The LA Works class at Lincoln Academy provides real life work experience for LA students. As part of LA Works, some students spend time at workplaces off campus preparing for jobs after graduation. Members of the class prepare resumes, complete mock job interviews, and learn other work-readiness skills. In addition, a major project of the LA Works class is creating a mini-foundation right on the Lincoln Academy campus. This program, created by LA Works teacher Michele Rodrigues, starts with fundraising in the fall, continues with a Request For Proposals (RFP) and a grant review process in the winter, and concludes with awarding several grants to local non-profit organizations in the spring. LA students drive this process from start to finish. “The students do all the work. They make these grants happen,” says Ms. Rodrigues. On Friday, April 8, the LA Works class invited representatives from the two grant recipient organizations to Lincoln, where students presented them each with a $1000 check during a Community Meeting.
This year students selected the Lincoln Academy Leadership Corps, represented by Jake Abbott, and Caring For Kids, represented by Jenny Pendleton. When they received their checks, each recipient spoke a few words about how they would use these grants. “LA Leadership Corps is just getting started. We are making a big difference in the Lincoln Academy Community and this grant will allow us to do more training and lead more programs for all Lincoln students,” said Mr. Abbott. Ms. Pendleton said, “Each week our program sends weekend food packages home with more than 70 kids who receive free and reduced lunch. This grant will make a huge difference to our program. $1000 buys a lot of weekend food for kids.”
When students were asked how they selected the winners among the applicant pool, they gave the following statement as a class: “We chose these two grants because they were the grants that were the most qualified. They followed the grant RFP requirements sufficiently and accurately.”
Reflecting on the value of their year-long grant process, the class also made the following statement, “through this grant process we have learned how to manage our time and money, meet important deadlines, and hold others accountable as well as ourselves.”
During the grant awards ceremony, Ms. Rodrigues also honored four individual Lincoln Academy students: Samantha Scofield ‘16, Kelsey Briggs ‘16, and Cody Webster ‘16, received Leadership Awards, and Sarah Simmons ‘17 received the LA Works Most Improved Student award. “All the students worked hard,” said Ms. Rodrigues, “but these four put in the extra effort that made the year so successful.”
After Community Meeting the LA Works students and grant recipients were invited by Head of School David Sturdevant and his wife Beth to a reception at Borland Hall, where they enjoyed a catered breakfast. Students had been informed earlier in the week that Ms. Rodrigues is retiring after this year, so the breakfast served as a thank you and farewell to this beloved teacher as well.
In discussing her retirement, Ms. Rodrigues spoke fondly of the LA Works grant process. “I hope this grant program will continue next year. It’s a fantastic experience for the students and we do some real good in the community.”